Mount Baker and the Park Butte Lookout

Park Butte Lookout Under the Big Dipper

Park Butte Lookout Under the Big Dipper

The Park Butte Lookout is perched atop a ridge on the south side of Mount Baker.
The 4 mile trail switchbacks up the slopes, breaking out into Morovitz Meadows and traversing along the mountain to a last steep climb to the Lookout.
Park Butte Lookout

Park Butte Lookout

Open to the public to stay the night the Lookout provides some spectacular views.
View from inside

View from inside

On this particular night I waited for the new moon so the stars would be out and managed to arrive there just as the sun set.
Mount Baker. Te ridge on the right is Railroad Grade

Mount Baker. The ridge on the right is Railroad Grade

Lookout at Sunset

Lookout at Sunset

The twilight set the place aglow. Bellingham in the distance created almost too much light!


Big Dipper, Park Butte Lookout and Bellingham

Park Butte Lookout and Bellingham

Luck was with me, the Milky Way aligned with the summit, looking as if Mount Baker was spewing stars.
Mount Baker and the Milky Way

Mount Baker and the Milky Way

Mount Baker and the Milky Way

Mount Baker and the Milky Way

We left at midnight to hike back down and made it home at about 3am.
Lookout at night

Lookout at night

A very satisfying night!

Skagit Valley Sunsets

These first three images were taken along Cook Road, just east of I-5. There is a barn here, with no house nearby and the views are expansive. Of course landscapes and skies are always better with stuff in the foreground! tractor-and-sky-1m



This next set of three images was taken 2 nights later, out along the Bayview-Edison Road, just west of Edison. That’s the Samish River there.



A Stormy Night Atop Devils Dome

Devils Dome_Panorama 101m
We arrived atop Devils Dome late in the afternoon and set up camp. Devils Dome, Pasayten Wilderness
Though we were atop the peak snow fields nearby supplied us with water. The sunset was magnificent, but we watched it from inside our tent mesh because the mosquitoes were ravenous. Devils Dome Sunset
Devils Dome affords a 360 degree view of Jack Mountain, to the south, Hozomeen to the north, The glaciated peaks of North Cascades National Park to the west and a broad expanse of the Pasayten to the east. Devils Dome Sunset 5
Devils Dome Sunset 2
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After a wonderful dinner we quickly went to sleep excited about the beauty tomorrow promised.

Something woke me up. I lay for a moment with eyes closed, sensing. There was a stillness, which was odd seeing that I was camped on a mountain top, and the smell of rain in the air. Suddenly opening my eyes I saw that the sky was clouded over. I lay for another moment reluctantly picturing myself getting up and putting the rain fly on the tent when I saw the flicker of lightning in the eastern sky. I sat up looking…there was another flash…and another.

Quickly exiting the tent I stood scanning the sky. There was lightning to the east…then to the south, then again, to the west…the dark tumultuous sky was alive with flashes, the peaks briefly illuminated and then again black shapes…I looked on in wonder…and then it stated raining.

I quickly awoke my two companions and let them know that they needed to get up, get dressed and get out of the tent and give me a hand. At first they were both saying, “why don’t you just put on the rain fly and get back in, go back to sleep…” and I replied that if they stayed in the tent that they would miss the lightning show…that provided sufficient motivation and they were soon out of the tent, looking at the skies. The lightning was getting more intense, more frequent…we could see the glow of a fire to the west, over towards Ross Lake and the National Park boundary.

Devils Dome Sunset 6

My plan was simple: get the rain fly on the tent, throw all our stuff in it, don our rain gear and then lie on the grass and watch the show. But my two friends had other ideas. One strongly advised that we immediately depart and head down the mountain to find shelter from the lightning. My other friend insisted on a more simple approach: do nothing and simply enjoy the storm. I started with the rain fly and loading the tent and soon they came to assist me.

Some one came up with the idea of planting our trekking poles in the ground, well away from the tent, to act as lightning rods (!). And so, now somewhat content with our preparations, we all watched.

The rain started to come down now. The wind picked up, strong gusts blowing across the summit. The flashes became more insistent, more frequent. With each flash the ridges between us suddenly appeared out of darkness, and then…gone back to my imagination, leaving lasting imprints of what had just been illuminated. From our vantage point we could see what looked like 6 or so fires burning
Devils Dome Sunset 9
On three sides of us there were regular flashes, every few seconds, another, and then another. The wind and rain continued unabated. In fact they increased along with the regularity of the lightning, each building to a crescendo. The lightning now seemed to take on a reddish hue, then green or blue (was it just my imagination?)

Transfixed by the sheer beauty, we had front row seats for natures own fireworks show, the best we had ever seen. Just as I was starting to edge towards getting the hell out of there the tempest began to lessen, the wind shifted. The lightning to the west, which seemed to head towards us, stopped.
Devils Dome Sunset 4
And that was it! The storm cell had passed us by. The lightning to the east faded out and in its place we could now see the faint hint of the sun.

The date was 08/08/08. This was the opening night of the Olympics in Bejing, and we mused that the fireworks we had just seen surpassed theirs, hands down. It was also the scheduled date for the start up of the Large Hadron Collider and we considered that the lightning storm was a direct result of the resultant black holes now devouring earth. These points we avidly debated, but all agreed that the peak was rightly named: Devils Dome.
Devils Dome Sunset 8
As the excitement died down my friends retired to sleep and I ventured forth to catch some of the morning light.
Devils Dome Sunset 7
The Pasayten Wilderness is one of my favorite places in Washington, a land of mountains and rivers, steep valleys and meadows, wildflowers and zen like peace. This experience, on day 6 of our twelve day trek which started at the Canyon Creek Trail head on the North Cascades Highway.

Our journey was just getting started…
flowers and clouds 4

RAW Image Manipulation

Between mundane tasks like work and exercise I try to entertain myself by studying PS books and navigating the mental fog to apply new techniques for image manipulation.
My most recent “new” technique are the brushes in Camera RAW.
Here is an image in its untouched state: IMG_5601

And here is the finished version.
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After opening the image in Camera RAW and hitting “auto” for the exposure setting almost all the additional changes were made with the brushes, altering saturation, clarity, contrast and exposure on various sections, one at a time.

Its a new way to bring out colors and textures. The image is taken at Point of the Arches, Olympic National Park.

Sunrise along Edison Slough

Edison is a small town in NW Washington, not far from Puget Sound. Located in Skagit County, Edison is just north of the town, Bow, along Chuckanut Drive. Heading west, passing through town the Bayview-Edison Road zig-zags and soon comes to a cause-way type bridge over the slough.

Here is a series of images from sunrise, 11/23/2013 from both sides of the bridge. barn 1em Here is a barn along the way, on Farm To Market Road…

These next 4 images are from just before the sun crested the horizon…

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Once the morning sun’s rays arrived the scene changed, adding an entirely different light…
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boat 4em

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Walking back and forth along the top of the bridge there is a lot to capture!
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These next two images are of the same boat, from opposite sides.
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Crossing the road and looking south west here is the view of water.
boat 18em

Using Reflections

Reflections can add greatly to any photograph. There is something striking about reflections, they add depth, color, scale, texture and sort of pull you into the image.
AndyPorter_Shuksan_Landscape Mount Shuksan
cypress 3em Cypress Island

One item you’ll need to capture reflections is a polarizer. Try to position yourself at a 45 degree to the light for best results and as you rotate the polarizer you’ll see the reflection pop out. Be prepared to get low, maybe on your belly to get the shot!

Pond along Reiter Road Pond along Reiter Road
boat 6 Boats along Samish Bay

I am always on the hunt for any size body of water.
Sequim Balloon Festival Balloon reflected in a artificial “pond”
sunset through an open window Sunset Through an Open Window

Small puddles work great!
LB reflection 3m2 Liberty Bell from Washington Pass Overlook along the North Cascades Highway

The water does not have to be clear!
reds reflected em Tulips Reflected
sunset 1 Mud Puddle Reflection

Even wet surfaces can create wonderful reflections.
poa 17em Reflections in Sand

Everytime you see any standing water, try for a reflection!
Amphitheater Mountain Reflected Cathedral Peak, Pasayten Wilderness 3em Amphitheater Mountain Reflected, Pasayten Wilderness

ship em Squalicum Bay

sunset water Sunset and Muddy Water

Point of the Arches and Shi Shi Beach, Olympic National Park

I have camped at many places. Sometimes you find a spot with such beauty, such a personality that you fall in love.

Point of the Arches is one of those places for me. When the tide is out the beach stretches beyond the sea stacks. Wandering among the tide pools, excited to see what’s next, I am astounded at how much things change each time I visit, yet stay the same.

The sound of the waves, first muted and now roaring create a soundtrack that calms and thrills. The gulls and wind add their parts to the symphony.

A fire at night and the feel of sand and smoke.

The stars and darkness crashing.

Perched on the edge. Taking it all in.

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Wildflowers of the Pasayten Wilderness

The Pasayten Wilderness is located in Washington State along the Canadian Border. Stretching east from Ross Lake the mountains here are drier than the North Cascades National Park, on the other side of the lake. Long ridges, endless meadows filled with wildflowers and solitude is what you’ll find here in the Pasayten.
Here are a few images from an earlier trip…cant wait until July when I’ll be headed back out there on another long trek…
Pasayten Wilderness Wildflowers on the PCT em Pasayten Wilderness Wildflowers on the Pacific Crest Trail

Jack Mountain and Wildflowers from Devils Dome em Jack Mountain and wildflowers from Devils Dome

Pasayten Wildflowers on the PCT em Pasayten Wilderness Wildflowers on the PCT

Wildflowers in the Pasayten Wilderness em Pasayten Wilderness Wildflowers

Wildflowers on the Jackita Ridge Trail, Pasayten Wilderness em Pasayten Wilderness Wildflowers

Em and Jack (Mountain) Em and Jack Mountain

Joker Mountain from the Three Fools Trail Joker Mountain from the Three Fools Trail

Ross Lake from the Lightning Creek Trail Ross Lake from the Lightning Creek Trail